GEOG 571
Intelligence Analysis, Cultural Geography, and Homeland Security

GEOG 571 Syllabus (Spring 2024)


This syllabus is divided into several sections. It is essential that you read the entire document as well as material covered in the Orientation. Together these serve the role of our course "contract."


Spring 1 2024 - Dr. Cristopher Livecchi (Jan - Mar)
Spring 2 2024 - Dr. Leanne Sulewski (Feb - May)
Summer 2024 - Dr. Brandi Gaertner (May - Jul)

Course Overview

GEOG 571 is a course offered in the Geospatial Intelligence Certificates, the Geospatial Intelligence Option in the Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security, and the Master of Geographic Information Systems programs, available exclusively through Penn State World Campus. It is also one of the optional courses in Penn State's Postbaccalaureate Certificate in GIS. The course consists of projects, associated readings, and exams.

As participants in a graduate-level course, students enrolled in Geography 571 should expect the grading of assignments to be based upon the following:

  1. demonstrated mastery of the subject matter;
  2. clarity of thought;
  3. reliance on factual information in defense of, or against, a given point of view;
  4. logic; and
  5. effective integration of course materials into discussions, critiques, and answers to questions.

What will be expected of you?

Like any upper-level course, you will be challenged to move beyond the knowledge and skills that you bring to the class. You can expect to be busy; as rough estimate, you should allow 12-15 hours per week for class assignments, including projects and related activities. You'll be glad to know that you don't need to show up for class at a certain time! All you need to do is complete assignments before the published deadlines each week.

We have worked hard to make this the most effective and convenient educational experience possible. How much and how well you learn is ultimately up to you. You will succeed if you are diligent about keeping up with the class schedule and if you take advantage of opportunities to communicate with us, as well as with your fellow students.

Course Objectives

GEOG 571: Successful students will be able to demonstrate comprehension of the following course materials by logically applying the information learned to the analyses of civil security problems, and by offering lucid presentations and solutions based on clearly reasoned syntheses:

  • Critique empirical and theoretical scholarship in cultural and political geography

  • Assess cultural landscapes in order to identify potential flashpoints

  • Evaluate information from multiple sources regarding complex phenomena

  • Critique intelligence relative to the nature of current and potential future threats to civil security using theoretical concepts in cultural geography to inform decision-making processes

  • Generate written work that clearly and succinctly synthesizes and communicates existing information, insights into complex phenomena, and recommendations for action

Course Expectations

Successful participants will:

  1. be prepared to offer critical appraisals of all assigned reading materials;
  2. complete and turn in all assignments on time;
  3. actively and respectfully participate in discussions (online or in other formats);
  4. complete a research project on an approved topic;
  5. submit written work that is properly documented in accordance with the APA Quick Citation Guide.

Required Course Materials

There are no required materials for this course. Registered Penn State students will have access to all external readings through the Penn State Libraries.

Using the Library

As a Penn State student (whether on campus or online), you have a wealth of library resources available to you!

You can...

  • search for journal articles (many are immediately available in full-text);
  • request articles that aren't available in full-text and have them delivered electronically;
  • borrow books and other materials and have them delivered to your doorstep;
  • access materials that your instructor has put on Electronic Reserve;
  • talk to reference librarians in real time using chat, phone, and e-mail;
  • ...and much more!

To register with the Libraries, and to learn more about their services, go to Penn State University Libraries Access Services.

Assignments and Grading

Students earn grades that reflect the extent to which they achieve the learning objectives, listed above. Grades will be based on percentages assigned to each of several components of the course, and opportunities to demonstrate learning include the following:

  • Seven weekly discussions: (30 pts each = 210 points)
    You will be expected to participate in weekly discussions, where you will demonstrate your understanding of the lesson content and readings.
  • Three Quizzes: (20 points each = 60 points)
    You will complete two quizzes to assess your understanding of the lesson content and readings.
  • Four mapping exercises: (50 pts each = 200 points)
    You will complete several mapping exercises using ArcGIS Online. Registered Penn State students will be provided access to the ArcGIS Online platform.
  • Four written assignments:  (75 pts each = 300 points)
    You will be expected to complete four written assignments, each between 250 and 1,000 words in length.
  • Research Project: (20 pts + 50 pts + 30 pts + 130 pts = 230 points)
    The research project will be completed in four steps: topic selection (20 points), project outline and annotated bibliography (50 points), rough draft (30 points), and final draft (130 points).

Letter grades will be based on the point scale below. Please note: grades (final or otherwise) are not negotiable.

Letter Grade and Corresponding Points
Letter Grade Points
A 900 - 1,000 points
A- 875 - 899 points
B+ 850 - 874 points
B 800 - 849 points
B- 775 - 799 points
C+ 750 - 774 points
C 700 - 749 points
D 600 - 699 points
F < 600 points
X Unsatisfactory (student did not participate)

Late Assignment Policy

I do not accept any "late work." In exceptional circumstances, you should contact me. The earlier you contact me to request a late submission, the better. Requests will be considered on a case by case basis. Generally, late assignments will be assessed a penalty of at least 10% and will not be accepted more than one week after the original due date.

Make-up Exam Policy

There are no exams in this course.


Grades will not be curved in this course.

Academic Integrity and AI-Generated Content

According to Penn State policy G-9: Academic Integrity, an academic integrity violation is "an intentional, unintentional, or attempted violation of course or assessment policies to gain an academic advantage or to advantage or disadvantage another student academically." For this course, you are expected to complete all course work entirely on your own, and you may not assist other students with assignments, quizzes, or other assessments, with the exception of group assignments where teammates are expected to collaborate. You may not use generative technology such as ChatGPT or other AI chatbots to compose or revise your work. You may not submit false or fabricated information, use the same academic work for credit in multiple courses, or share instructional content. Students with questions about academic integrity should ask their instructor before submitting work. 

Students facing allegations of academic misconduct may not drop/withdraw from the affected course unless they are cleared of wrongdoing (see G-9: Academic Integrity). Attempted drops will be prevented or reversed, and students will be expected to complete course work and meet course deadlines. Students who are found responsible for academic integrity violations face academic outcomes, which can be severe, and put themselves at jeopardy for other outcomes which may include ineligibility for Dean's List, pass/fail elections, and grade forgiveness. Students may also face consequences from their home/major program.

GEOG 571 Course Schedule

image Printable Schedule

This course is 10 weeks in length.
Below, you will find a brief summary of the lesson tasks for this course and the associated time frames. Assignment information will be located on each lesson's checklist - so you will need to check there for the full set of details and deliverables. Sometimes, the details for each lesson can change, and it's possible that the syllabus may not be updated as quickly as the lesson checklists, so always check specific lesson checklists for the latest details.

Please check the course calendar in Canvas for time frames and specific due dates.

Lesson 1: Foundations of Cultural Geography
Date: Week 1
  • Read the online lecture notes and the other online articles as indicated in the lesson.
  • Introduce yourself to the class in the Personal Introductions Discussion Forum.
  • Submit a screen capture of a successful ArcGIS login (5 points).
  • Complete the Lesson 1 StoryMap Exercise (45 points).
  • Participate in the Lesson 1 Discussion Forum (30 points).
Possible Points: 80

Lesson 2: Cultural Geography, Intelligence, and Security
Date: Week 2
  • Read the online lecture notes and the other online articles as indicated in the lesson.
  • Participate in the Lesson 2 Team Debate (30 points).
  • Submit your Research Project Proposal (20 points).
Possible Points: 50

Lesson 3: Identity I: Foundations
Date: Week 3
  • Read the online lecture notes and the other online articles as indicated in the lesson.
  • Participate in the Lesson 3 Discussion Forum (30 points).
  • Submit your written assignment to the Lesson 3 Written Brief dropbox in Canvas (75 points).
Possible Points: 105

Lesson 4: Identity II: Boundaries and Identity
Date: Week 4
  • Read the online lecture notes and the other online articles as indicated in the lesson.
  • Participate in the Lesson 4 Discussion Forum (30 points).
  • Complete the ArcGIS Online Group Exercise (50 points).
  • Submit your Research Project Outline and Annotated Bibliography (50 points).
Possible Points: 130

Lesson 5: Identity III: Nationalism, Separatism, and Terrorism
Date: Week 5
  • Read the online lecture notes and the other online articles as indicated in the lesson.
  • Participate in the Lesson 5 Discussion Forum (30 points).
  • Submit your ArcGIS Online Exercise (50 points).
Possible Points: 80

Lesson 6: Cultural Landscapes
Date: Week 6
  • Read the online lecture notes and the other online articles as indicated in the lesson.
  • Participate in the Lesson 6 Discussion Forum (30 points).
  • Submit your ArcGIS Online StoryMap Exercise (50 points).
Possible Points: 80

Lesson 7: Mobility I: Access, Movement, and Borders
Date: Week 7
  • Read the online lecture notes and the other online articles as indicated in the lesson.
  • Take the Lesson 7 Quiz (15 points).
  • Submit your Research Project Rough Draft (30 points).
Possible Points: 45

Lesson 8: Mobility II: Refugees and Asylum Seekers
Date: Week 8
  • Read the online lecture notes and the other online articles as indicated in the lesson.
  • Participate in the Lesson 8 Discussion Forum (30 points).
  • Submit your Lesson 8 Written Brief (75 points).
Possible Points: 105

Lesson 9: Home I: Dynamics of Home
Date: Week 9
  • Read the online lecture notes and the other online articles as indicated in the lesson.
  • Submit your Research Project Dropbox Final Draft (130 points).
  • Take the Lesson 9 Quiz (15 points).
  • Submit your Executive Summary of the final project (75 points).
Possible Points: 230

Lesson 10: Home II: Scaling Home
Date: Week 10
  • Read the online lecture notes and the other online articles as indicated in the lesson.
  • Participate in the Lesson 10 Discussion Forum (30 points).
  • Submit your Lesson 10 Written Brief (75 points).
Possible Points: 105

Class Support Services

Penn State Online offers online tutoring to World Campus students in math, writing, and some business classes. Tutoring and guided study groups for residential students are available through Penn State Learning.

Course Policies

Citation and Reference Style

Use the resources found at the Penn State Libraries APA Quick Citation Guide to help you in citing references.

Penn State E-mail Accounts

All official communications from Penn State are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information.

Academic Integrity

This course follows the procedures for academic integrity of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Penn State defines academic integrity as "the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner." Academic integrity includes "a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception." In particular, the University defines plagiarism as "the fabrication of information and citations; submitting others' work from professional journals, books, articles, and papers; submission of other students' papers, lab results or project reports and representing the work as one's own." Penalties for violations of academic integrity may include course failure. To learn more, see Penn State's Academic Integrity Training for Students

Course Copyright

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Office for Student Disability Resources website provides contact information for Campus Disability Coordinators at every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Office for Student Disability Resources website.

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled. You will participate in an intake interview and provide documentation. See documentation guidelines at Applying for Services from Student Disability Resources. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Change in Normal Campus Operations

In case of weather-related delays or other emergency campus disruptions or closures at the University, this online course will proceed as planned. Your instructor will inform you if there are any extenuating circumstances regarding content or activity due dates in the course due to these delays or closures. If you are affected by a weather-related emergency, please contact your instructor at the earliest possible time to make special arrangements.

Reporting Educational Equity Concerns

Penn State takes great pride in fostering a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated (Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance) and can be reported through Educational Equity via Report Bias.

Counseling and Psychological Services

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional well-being.  The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings.  These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity, and sexual orientation.  Services include the following:

Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park  (CAPS): 814-863-0395
Counseling Services at Commonwealth Campuses
Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741

Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Connect Online with Caution

Penn State is committed to educational access for all. Our students come from all walks of life and have diverse life experiences. As with any other online community, the lack of physical interaction in an online classroom can create a false sense of anonymity and security. While one can make new friends online, digital relationships can also be misleading. Good judgment and decision-making are critical when choosing to disclose personal information to others whom you do not know.

Technical Requirements

For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on the World Campus Technical Requirements page, including the requirements listed for same-time, synchronous communications. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the IT Service Desk (for World Campus students) or Penn State's IT Help Portal (for students at all other campus locations).

Internet Connection

Access to a reliable Internet connection is required for this course. A problem with your Internet access may not be used as an excuse for late, missing, or incomplete coursework. If you experience problems with your Internet connection while working on this course, it is your responsibility to find an alternative Internet access point, such as a public library or Wi-Fi ® hotspot.

Mixed Content

This site is considered a secure web site, which means that your connection is encrypted. We do, however, link to content that isn't necessarily encrypted. This is called mixed content. By default, mixed content is blocked in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome. This may result in a blank page or a message saying that only secure content is displayed. Follow the directions on our Technical Requirements page to view the mixed content.

Deferred Grades

If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time for reasons that are beyond your control, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor, following Penn State Deferred Grade Policy 48-40. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to the instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. Non-emergency permission for filing a deferred grade must be requested before the beginning of the final examination period.  It is up to the instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If permission is granted, you will work with the instructor to establish a communication plan and a clear schedule for completion within policy.  If, for any reason, the coursework for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect

Penn State is “committed to creating an educational environment which is free from intolerance directed toward individuals or groups and strives to create and maintain an environment that fosters respect for others” as stated in Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance. All members of this class are expected to contribute to a respectful, welcoming, and inclusive environment and to interact with civility.

For additional information, see:


This course will be conducted entirely online. There will be no set class meeting times, but you will be required to complete weekly assignments with specific due dates. Many of the assignments are open for multiple days, so it is your responsibility to complete the work early if you plan to travel or participate in national holidays, religious observances or University approved activities.

If you need to request an exception due to a personal or medical emergency, contact the instructor directly as soon as you are able. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Mandated Reporting Statement

Penn State’s policies require me, as a faculty member, to share information about incidents of sex-based discrimination and harassment (discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and retaliation) with Penn State’s Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinators, regardless of whether the incidents are stated to me in person or shared by students as part of their coursework. For more information regarding the University's policies and procedures for responding to reports of sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct, please visit Penn State's Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention & Response website.

Additionally, I am required to make a report on any reasonable suspicion of child abuse in accordance with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law.


Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus can be changed at any time, and you will be responsible for abiding by any such changes. All changes will be communicated to you via e-mail, course announcement and/or course discussion forum.